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Tom Engelhardt: America, Tear Down ‘Freedom Tower’

Posted on Sep 9, 2011
Flickr / asterix611

Seven years into the Soviet Union’s fatal adventure in Afghanistan, U.S. President Ronald Reagan stood before the international community in West Berlin and demanded that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev tear down the wall that separated East Germany from the West.

Today, it is the United States that is engulfed in costly, interminable wars, and Tom Engelhardt, editor of TomDispatch, is calling for Americans to “tear down” the $3.3 billion “hubris-filled 1,776 feet of building, planned in the heyday of George W. Bush and soaring into the Manhattan sky like a nyaah-nyaah invitation to future terrorists,” that is being erected to commemorate the 9/11 attacks.

Engelhardt is no Reagan Republican. But for him, “Freedom Tower”—renamed 1 World Trade Center in 2009 and set to stand at the symbolic height of 1,776 feet—exploits the ideal of liberty and all those who were killed in the decade-long worldwide carnage that followed the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. —ARK


Ask yourself this: ten years into the post-9/11 era, haven’t we had enough of ourselves?  If we have any respect for history or humanity or decency left, isn’t it time to rip the Band-Aid off the wound, to remove 9/11 from our collective consciousness?  No more invocations of those attacks to explain otherwise inexplicable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our oh-so-global war on terror.  No more invocations of 9/11 to keep the Pentagon and the national security state flooded with money.  No more invocations of 9/11 to justify every encroachment on liberty, every new step in the surveillance of Americans, every advance in pat-downs and wand-downs and strip downs that keeps fear high and the homeland security state afloat.

The attacks of September 11, 2001 were in every sense abusive, horrific acts.  And the saddest thing is that the victims of those suicidal monstrosities have been misused here ever since under the guise of pious remembrance.  This country has become dependent on the dead of 9/11—who have no way of defending themselves against how they have been used—as an all-purpose explanation for our own goodness and the horrors we’ve visited on others, for the many towers-worth of dead in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere whose blood is on our hands.

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By Cliff Carson, February 28, 2012 at 8:57 pm Link to this comment

I agree anarcissie.

An never forget that retired General Wesley Clark (Former NATO Commander) was on TV several years back discussing the conversation he had with some Pentagon Generals discussing the plans to invade seven Middle East Countries.

So far all is going to that plan.

Iran is one of those on the list.

So was Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya and Syria, could you guess the others?

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By Anarcissie, February 28, 2012 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment

It seems to me the primary face of the U.S. in the Middle East is imperialism and the wars which accompany it.  Therefore, it seems most likely to me that if people from the Middle East attack the U.S., they are motivated by that imperialism and those wars—which have killed hundreds of thousands of people there—rather than cultural differences.

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By Cliff Carson, February 28, 2012 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment

By Charles Kolsrud, February 28 at 11:56 am

“But Bin Laden wasn’t responding to European Imperialism or America’s misguided attempts to imitate it; he wasn’t even responding to our support of Israel.

He was using all of the above to, in the manner of all useless second, third or fourth sons living in patriarchal cultures, valid himself.”

Charles, I believe you are somewhat in error.

Bin Laden declared War on the United States years before 9/11.  You might remember that he denied complicity in the 9/11 attack for a couple of years after it occurred.  I am all for a very thorough review of all evidence available concerning the perpetrators of that deed.  It is true that he later claimed that he planned it, but I wonder why he denied it for so long.

In any event Bin Laden declared war on the United States in august of 1996 for placing a Military Base in Saudi Arabia.

You also might remember that he warned the United States that he would do just that if a base was placed in his homeland.

But the United States wanted a Military Base in Saudi Arabia and although King Abdullah didn’t want it on Saudi soil, he basically was forced into accepting it.  The U S used as their persuasion during the First Gulf War that Iraq might invade the Saudi Country.  Since he was so against it, I have always thought there was an “Offer he couldn’t refuse” handed down to him by the United States.

But what the heck, there were U S Soldiers in Afghanistan fighting for the Northern Alliance against the Taliban also before 9/11.

Wikileaks has revealed a lot about “What we don’t know”.

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By Charles Kolsrud, February 28, 2012 at 12:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anarcissie - they’re not, European and American interference, that 100 years of Imperialism you cite, is another issue entirely and one we should have noted before getting into that game.

But Bin Laden wasn’t responding to European Imperialism or America’s misguided attempts to imitate it; he wasn’t even responding to our support of Israel.

He was using all of the above to, in the manner of all useless second, third or fourth sons living in patriarchal cultures, valid himself.

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By Anarcissie, September 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm Link to this comment

Charles Kolsrud, September 18 at 4:46 pm:

‘... The attack on the Twin Towers was an attack on the Western values of individualism and equality….’

How are the almost continuous war and imperialism which the United States and its allies have visited upon the Middle East in the last century or so an expression of individualism and equality?

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By Charles Kolsrud, September 18, 2011 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wow, you guys are something!  One criticism - the evil stalking this country is not monolithic; Bush, Cheney et al had nothing to do with rebuilding the WTC and the rebuilding of the WTC is more than an expression of commercialism.

My own feeling - Bush and Cheney, especially, should be hung for taking advantage of 9/11 to establish the NSA and contribute to the Republican’s 40 year old attack on the civil liberties this country was founded to establish and preserve.  I do not agree that anyone should be murdered for a “cause”, especially when that “cause” has been hijacked, just as B&C hijacked 9/11, to promote personal agendas. If you got a problem, air it out by going to the people.  If they’re indifferent, no amount of screaming is going to help and boxing yourself into increasingly inflexible levels of radicalism just means you’ve given up, no one’s going to take your rant seriously.

The attack on the Twin Towers was not a protest of American foreign policy or pay-back for American support of butchery in the Middle-East or anywhere else (the slaughter in Vietnam was the responsibility of the Viet-Cong, the NVA and then the Brass of the American military, the latter being our [the grunts] only true enemy.  But, a very big But, the VC and the NVA supported terrorizing the local population as both a tactical and strategic policy.  Except for the CIA, we didn’t and everytime one of our patrols stumbled over the remains of such policies we were sickened, as we should have been.
Phoenix targeted, unacceptably, individuals; the VC and NVA targeted whole populations.  And creatures like Ben Laden could care less.

The attack on the Twin Towers was an attack on the Western values of individualism and equality: values that threaten the tribalism that still rules much of the Middle-East, whose values center around Patriarchal hierarchies and the clan and which do not recognize the individual as anything more than a cog in that structure.

Our outrage at the attack, though centered in those values of individualism and equality (no matter how badly held), was not the expression of an ideology, it was the horror at the senseless murder of 3,000 individual human beings, each of whom had a right to live their lives, period, and it was that right that was attacked.

This is the reason most of the members of the people support the rebuilding of the Towers as well as the building of the Memorial.  However accurate your critiques of our foreign policy or the intentions of the evil forces who attack from within, they really have nothing to do with either 9/11/2001 or our reaction as expressed on 9/11/2011.  We leave no one behind and we bury our dead with respect, this is what the rebuilding of the WTC and the establishment of the Memorial represents now and will represent in the future, parochial commercialism notwithstanding.

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By Lafayette, September 11, 2011 at 10:55 pm Link to this comment


TE: If we have any respect for history or humanity or decency left, isn’t it time to rip the Band-Aid off the wound, to remove 9/11 from our collective consciousness?

No, it isn’t.

It is naive to think that by tearing down a tower that somehow the world will come to love America and Americans.

It’s just not that easy in a place where 3 billion people live - there is always someone out there that will hate our ideals, or envy our standard of living, or want to blame us for all the ills that befall the world in which we live.

Unless we want to retreat to a little hole in which to lurk whilst fearing the world that surrounds us. Which is not the way of the American people either. 

Rather, let us teach a lesson next year to the one Party that symbolizes most its support for the M-I-C in a crazed belief that Uncle Sam must kick-ass to be respected.

That too is not the American Way. It’s just a perverse Macho Belief of a particularly bent group of our people. Why we, the sheeple, ever believed their tiresome nonsense is a good question worth asking/answering towards putting them once and for all in their place.

Let’s repair our own Domestic Democracy before forcing it upon the world - there is so much reformational work to be done after the considerable abuse made to it.

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By Basoflakes, September 11, 2011 at 1:25 pm Link to this comment


For the past weeks, we’ve been deluged with rememberances, and I’m sick of it.  I wanted to stop remembering within weeks after 9/11, because of one thing - we deserved it, and instead of introspectfully looking at our mistakes while finding the real killers, we whined and took our ball(bombs) and went to another field to play(Iraq).

Now, no innocent(you know, like the 4 million innocent Vietnamese that died, the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis/Afghanis that died, or the untold deaths at the hands of US aided overthrows in Chile, Iran and dozens of other countries) deserves to die, but, as Bin Laden said, the US has to quit supporting oppressive regimes in the Middle East, stop occupying Muslim countries with our militaries and most of all, stop enabling Israel’s murdering of Muslims with $Billions annually. 

Bin Laden was right.  I wish he didn’t do what he did, but he did it and he won and everytime I see a memorial, I am reminded that Bin Laden won, and my country was too stupid, greedy, or imperialistic to do the right thing - own up to our mistakes, fix them and don’t make them again.

I guess people here know that the US has yet to give Vietnam one penny for the trillions of dollars of damage we did there and the millions of lives lost - all for nothing.  Japan has given China tens of Billions of dollars in reparation for Nanking, and has apologized.

But not the US - we still don’t have the guts to admit when we are wrong.  And until we do, we will continue to “Never Forget”, ignore the truths about our country’s wrongdoings, and make the same mistakes over, and over, and over, and over…....

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By Anarcissie, September 11, 2011 at 7:21 am Link to this comment

toosinbeymen—I am in awe of your ability to ignore the media.  I can only hope to someday achieve such impermeability.

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By toosinbeymen, September 11, 2011 at 1:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Is this article serious?

It’s called the WTC, yo.

And it’s not “being erected to commemorate the 9/11 attacks.” It’s going up to utilize the land.

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By Silence is Complicity, September 10, 2011 at 8:30 pm Link to this comment

An informative article from that sheds light on the pre and post- 9/11 efforts of the warmongers and America’s enemies from within who are responsible for bringing America to the brink of bankruptcy!

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By Silence is Complicity, September 10, 2011 at 9:07 am Link to this comment

And excellent article by Tom Englehardt! I agree with every word he said. And I do believe that this “hubris-filled 1,776 feet of building” will stand as constant invitation for domestic insiders and foreign terrorists and all the merchants of death and destruction to try their evil plots again because it pays in material and psychological dividends that bring profits for their fear-mongering and destruction industry.

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By Anarcissie, September 10, 2011 at 8:21 am Link to this comment

So, why tear it down?  Let it stand as a monument to sanctimony.

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By Cliff Carson, September 10, 2011 at 7:55 am Link to this comment

What an excellent Article and its accompanying piece by Ariel Dorfman “Epitaph for another September 11” concerning the rise of Pinochet beginning with a September 11 1973 attack in that country.  I have copied an excerpt and pasted it here:

“the Chilean tragedy does send us one central message that needs attention if we are to avoid similar political disasters in the future: Many otherwise normal, decent human beings in my land allowed their liberty—and that of their persecuted fellow countrymen—to be stolen in the name of security, in the name of fighting terror. That was how General Pinochet and his cohorts justified their military takeover; that is how they built popular support for their massive violations of human rights. Fear, once it begins to eat away at a nation, once it is manipulated by an all-powerful government, is not easily eradicated by reason.”

Tell me, does that not seem all too familiar?

People we need to get our Government under control.  I have a book here at home by Sinclair Lewis “It Can’t Happen Here” yes a spoof, but in today’s light foreboding.  By the way, wasn’t it around this time that General Smedley Butler first warned us about a runaway Military Industry?

The people of America need to guard their rights with passion.

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By EmileZ, September 9, 2011 at 11:44 pm Link to this comment

9/11 don’t live here no more.

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By prisnersdilema, September 9, 2011 at 9:18 pm Link to this comment

Where to begin…it’s just the epitome of everything that’s wrong and crazy in this

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